In a state of 20 million people and a city as diverse as New York, there is only one party that rules. The Democrats control the governorship, both houses of the legislature, and the Court of Appeals (the highest court in NY).
In New York City, the Democrats control the mayor’s office, City Council, and the courts. Out of 51 council members, only three are Republicans.
While the Democrats love to vilify President Donald Trump, they are secretly thankful for his success. President Trump has silenced all the moderate Republicans in New York, as they are embarrassed to be associated with him.
Anyone that seeks office in New York City as a Republican will be immediately written off as a loss. Now that the Republicans are no longer a threat to the Democrats in the foreseeable
future, they have made moves to solidify their absolute control.
Enterprising candidates that seek to differentiate themselves from the Republicans and Democrats have rallied to other parties, such as the Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Working Families Party.
However, the Democrats do not want any spoilers to challenge them. On January 1, 2020, a new law went into effect that made it even harder for third parties to retain ballot access.
To remain on the ballot, a third-party must draw either 2 percent or 130,000 votes in the general election for governor or president every two years. This is an increase from just 50,000 votes.
Also, to ensure third-party candidates cannot get on the ballot, the law includes increasing the requirement for petition signatures from 15,000 to 45,000. For third-party or independent candidates to receive 45,000 signatures in several months is an arduous task.
Even if an independent candidate passes this impossible feat, both Democrats and Republicans will challenge the petitions before the state Board of Elections. Do you know who appoints the members of the Board of Elections? Democrats and Republicans.
Do you know when the state legislature voted to pass this new law? Trick question: the law did not have to pass in the traditional method; it simply was approved by the nine-member Board of Elections.
Do you know who proposed the change to the law? Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the New York Democratic Party.
“We in America do not have government by the majority,” Thomas Jefferson once said. “We have government by the majority who participate.”
New York Democrats have now ensured that the only people who get to participate in state and city elections are registered Democrats. The only election of interest is the Democratic primary, which is rarely contested. An election that is not contested means the candidate is approved by the party chairman.
For Democrats reading this, you may be thinking, “yes, because we need to unite to stop Trump.” The reason we have Trump as president is the result of a system controlled by two parties. If you only give people two choices, then do not be surprised when the people end up selecting a bad option.
In any competitive system with only two parties, companies, teams, etc., then the only outcome is a zero-sum of win or lose. In a game of win or lose, then there is no room for logical arguments. All discourse turns into personal attacks and an “us vs. them” mentality.
That is the political environment we live in now. Republicans have used this winner-take-all environment to control Washington. Democrats have used this environment to control Albany and City Hall.
The new election law created and implemented by Democrats will end nascent existence of third parties for decades.
There have been multiple instances of corruption in local politics, however Trump and his tweets have grabbed the attention of voters.
The governor’s top aide, Joseph Peroco, was convicted of accepting bribes, but the governor breezed into a third term. Former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, was found guilty of corruption in 2018, but the Democrats took the majority in both houses in the legislature.
In 2019, the New York Times ran multiple articles about the governor’s office exchanging favors for campaign donations. However, there were no formal investigations by any government institution. Absolute power breeds absolute corruption.
More choice at the ballot opens the mind to critical thinking and due diligence by the electorate. More parties elected to the legislature opens the door to more compromise based on logical reasoning.
If you are an independent voter in New York, then wake up to what is happening to democracy in your backyard. If you are a Democrat, then you objectively must know that the new election law is inherently unfair and blatant disfranchisement.
All New York voters should call their assembly members and state senators to demand that this law be repealed. Or go a step further and look at the third-party candidates and see what they offer.
Finally, donate to their campaigns in 2020, as this may be our last chance we have until the final takeover of our government by one party.
Michael Arcati is the chair for the Queens County Libertarians.